Friday, February 24, 2006

Plymouth Argyle Is Failing!!

Well, I contend it is failing in part. At least.
In what way? You may well ask. We are now comfortably safe in the CCC for the season. We have around £2m in the bank. No debt. (Accounts just out – check the Bag O’ Shite – sorry Official Website for details).
It all sounds good. And it is. To a point.
Put your thinking cap on. Name famous footballers from Plymouth or the South West who have gone on to perform at the highest level. Name ex-Argyle players who have done the same. Go on. Think about it while you read the rest of this. While you are at it try to think of any Geordies who have done the same and remember that Newcastle is smaller than Plymouth whilst you are at it.
Simply kids in the SW are not getting a fair crack at being pro-footballers and I think a large part of the blame needs to placed at the door of PAFC and given our current relatively elevated league status I just can’t see it getting much better because it’s getting harder and harder to give youngsters a chance.
My work takes me to many schools in the Plymouth area and I can assure you that football is as (ir)relevant a topic for conversation as it ever was. Boys in their droves kick a ball around at every opportunity and they often create opportunities to do so where they shouldn’t. This doesn’t make our boys special or odd. It makes them typical. I have little experience of schools elsewhere in the country but I suspect the picture is very similar in every school in the country.
There is no reason that our boys should be better or worse than the boys elsewhere but precious few of ours go on to make a career as a footballer and if they do they are unlikely to escape the SW enclave that envelopes them and get beyond us, Torquay or Exeter (perhaps I should leave out Exeter and add Yeovil – no matter the point is the same).
As a team we have done quite well lately to field Evans and Wotton, local lads both, and get a fee for Stevie Adams. Add to them geographical outsiders like Luke McCormick and Paul Connolly (recruited from afar) and we have shown that we can bring players through. The question is why are there so few? And why has there always been so few? Is the money invested in the youth scheme money well spent or money down the drain? Will tomorrow’s promising youngsters get a sniff of first XI action when we can field 4 Frenchmen, a Hungarian, a Serbian Swede and until recently a Nigerian, a Portugueser and an Icelandic?
The club’s scouting network has time and time again proved itself lacking in local football and missing the Superstars, few as they are, to come from this area. It is tantamount to either incompetence or negligence in my eyes. It brings the worth of the entire episode into question.
Back to the question at the start. Plymothian players at the very highest level? Only one in my lifetime: Trevor Francis. Sold on by the club? Only a couple: Paul Mariner (another "import") and Jock Morrison. Honourable mentions for David Phillips, Nigel Martyn, Gary Megson, Marc Edworthy, Nicky Marker, Martin Hodge, Milja Aleksic, Paul Barron, Alan Nicholls.
Not great is it?


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